Opera Lyra Ottawa’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata opened last night at the NAC. It was a wonderful performance, but for those of you thinking about trying out an opera for the first time, this may not be the show for you. OLO’s version of La Traviata was a concert presentation, which means no sets or costumes and minimal acting, although the full score was performed. While a fully staged operatic creation makes a magical evening, a concert presentation is more like a radio play than a television soap opera – entertaining, beautiful and full of talent, but lacking a certain oomph.
That being said, the talent showcase of La Traviata is phenomenal. The NAC Orchestra was wonderful, as always, and the chorus was excellent. The soloists were exceptional, reminding me that, in the right hands (a trained vocalist, not an overzealous karaoke performer) a voice truly can be a beautiful instrument. Corinne Winters did the part of Violetta justice, and her gowns were exquisite. Marion Newman was engaging and captivating as Flora and her interactions with Benjamin Covey (Marchese d’Obigny) and Jonathan Estabrooks (Barone Douphol) were entertaining and reminiscent of a fully staged show. They were extremely entertaining to watch.
All in all, it was an enjoyable evening at the NAC. Opera fans will appreciate OLO’s concert presentation of La Traviata – it’s a solid production of Verdi’s masterpiece. Opera newbies may want to wait until next season to get the full opera experience. Luckily, OLO has announced their productions for next season. In two fully staged performances, OLO will present Bizet’s Carmen in the autumn of 2013 and Puccini’s Madam Butterfly in the spring of 2014. Both are classic operas – everyone will recognize at least one song from each of them, as they are both that ingrained in pop culture. La Traviata may have been a little understated but it was beautiful and well worth seeing.